Maya's Halloween Spook-tacular Party!

Dear Mai,

It's nearing Halloween and we've been pretty into the fall / Halloween thing this year. Now back in the day, Halloween meant scary stuff. Try to see as many horror movies as possible, haunted houses and whatever else that would scare the bejesus out of me. In fact the last Halloween party I threw was before your time when Mommy and I lived in Columbus. We had a house full of friends, drinks, food, music, fun and the original 1973 Tobe Hooper version of The Texas Chainsaw Massacre on repeat. Good times. Good times.

Fast-forward to this year. Out of the blue a couple of weeks ago you said with a very matter of fact tone:

Maya: "Maybe we can have lots of treats and candy corn for my Halloween party."

Mommy: "What Halloween party?"

Maya: (exasperated with a heavy sigh) "My Halloween party for all my friends of course! Emma, Ben, Noelle, Genevieve and Lorelei!"

Mommy: (gives daddy the "are you responsible for this" look)

Daddy: "Hey! I know nothing about this. This is the first I heard of it!"

Mommy and I figured it was just another 3-year-old crazy rambling. You talk a lot of smack sometimes Mai. Our plan was to ignore it and let it go away.


Almost every day you had something else that you wanted to have or do for your party. We were at the point of no return. Since we didn't nip this in the bud right away and we just ignored it, we just HAD to have your little party for you. So finally last week we checked to see if your friends were available. They were. Great. I guess it's party time!

Now. Hmmm. Let's see. You probably realize by now that Daddy KNOWS how to throw a party. But you have also probably heard exasperated Mommy say that Daddy doesn't know how to throw a low-key party. Both of these things are true. I went into party mode.

Now I'm very busy at work these days but the day of your party arrived and I decided to take the day off to put my full attention on this. I've had some ideas about games and food but now came the real deal. I woke up early, made lists, hit the stores and when I got home you, Mommy and I went crazy on decorating, cooking and getting ready. I will have to say you are mommy were quite the helpers. 

Now I'm not trying to brag (too much) but I think we pulled off a good little shindig.

We had a streamer door

Goblin mouths and severed carrot fingers

Monster mouths

Skull Quesadillas

Pumpkin cake

Carved a scary jack-o-lantern. You are a priss like mommy and didn't like touching the pumpkin guts. Smelling the seeds? That was okay. Touching the guts? No way. Whatever. Kids are weird.

Pumpkin bowling with 1, 2 and 3 pint bowling "balls"

We played trick or treat, other games and had lots of treat bags and other fun

All this for 6 kids. Yup. 6. Not 10. Not 20. Six. Oh well, us parents enjoyed the festivities too. 

After all my complaining, I LOVE the fact that you wanted to throw a party. I LOVE that you are developing more social skills and I LOVE the fact that you want to help decorate, cook and be the hostess with the mostess. Having parties are a lot of work. It takes a lot of time but the payoff is the fun. We played the whole "What was your favorite part" question game this morning as we were cleaning.

Maya: "My favorite part was.. the candy. And the pumpkin cake."

Mommy: "My favorite part was the laughing and having fun with friends."

Maya: "What? That's not even a thing?"

Daddy: "That was my favorite part too. I love laughing and having a good time with friends!"

Maya: "Daddy!!! That is not even a thing I said!" 

(We all laugh and say "Oh Maya!")

It is a thing my dear. It is the most important thing. Laughter and good friends is not only the best thing about a party. It's the best thing about life. Never forget that my beautiful, amazing girl. Keep hosting parties and building friendships. Best. Gift. Ever.

I love you my little goofball punkin,


Rock and rollers! It's time for nighty!

We were just playing "band" and finished our lullaby. Maya on drums. Mommy on noise maker thingy and daddy on harmonica and skull shaker. We're tentitively called "kuzy."

Maya: "Rock and Rollers! It's time for nighty!"

Mommy: "I don't think rock and rollers get told to go nighty."

Maya: (disgusted) "YOU'RE OUT OF THE BAND!!!"

Welcome to our jungle.

Deep thoughts (kind of) with Maya Rose

Dear Mai,

So I've been sick all weekend so we've been cooped up in the house all weekend. I started finally feeling better today and we had some errands to run. We had to go to Target and Home Depot. One of the things on our list was some new legos for you so naturally you wanted to go to Target first. I grudgingly agreed and we headed out. 

Daddy: "Okay. Off we go. Target first then Home Depot."

Maya: (after a few moments of silence) "Daddy what is this play area?"

Now let me give you some context. The neighborhood we live in has a lot of parks so you like to go to all of them. You asked this as we were leaving our neighborhood and there is a cemetery on the edge.

Daddy: "Ah. That's not a play area. That's a cemetery."

Maya: "What's a summertery? Do they play summer things there?"

Daddy: "No. Not SUMMERtery. CEMEtery and they don't play there."

Maya: "What's a cemetery and what do they do there?"

Daddy: "Um. Uh. Well... hmmm... How do I explain this. Do you remember when we go visit Grandma, my mommy?"

Maya: "Yes"

Daddy: "Do you then remember when we go visit Grandpa and we go to a field and there's a pond and a huge stone and we talk and say hi to Grandpa?"

Maya: "Yes"

Daddy: "Okay good. That's a cemetery. Cemeteries are places where people have stones for people they love that are no longer with us. You know. People that have died. But we can still visit them there. That is Grandpa's cemetery and this one is a cemetery for other people."

Maya: (silence)

Daddy: (thinks) "I probably fouled that up."

Maya: "You're going the wrong way."

Daddy: "What?"

Maya: "You're going the wrong way. You said we could go to Target first and this is the way to Home Depot."

Daddy: (relieved and confused) "You are correct this IS the way to Home Depot BUT I'm taking a shortcut to Target this way."

Maya: "Oh. I like shortcuts. Mommy doesn't take this shortcut to Target. She goes the right way."

Mai, I don't know if half of what I say makes sense to you. I hope that it does and I'm sure I'll mess up a plenty of hard topics as we grow together. I hope that eventually I'll get it right and we can always talk openly and candidly. 

Until then, I'm pretty okay with avoiding the conversation by a 3 year old pointing out that she pays attention and has a strong sense of direction.



Whisking off to Whistler

Dear Mai,

We just got back from another quick getaway to Whistler, British Columbia. This time we were going up to see our friends Amanda and Todd get married. (Otherwise known as Panda and Toad, hence the wedding cupcakes)

Mommy and Daddy traveled to Whistler during our first year in Seattle, before you were born. We traveled back to Ohio to visit family and friends for Christmas but returned to Seattle on Christmas Eve. We had a few more days off so we decided, "Hey, let's go on a little mini vacation of our own." We headed to Whistler bright and early on Christmas day with Goose and Foz in tow. We had no agenda, no idea if there were any hotels available or if they allowed dogs and no idea what to do in Whistler. We don't really ski (at least I don't) but we're always up for a good vacation. It turned out to be one of our best Christmas's together. Good food, great scenery and just a lot of fun.

Fast forward to this trip and I feel like we packed enough stuff for a month abroad let alone 2 nights up in Canada. But we hit the road with you and Tito in tow this time and soon enough we were at the border! This is your third trip to Canada already in your short little life! The ride in was just as beautiful as we remembered it but there was SO MUCH TRAFFIC! Luckily you're a good little car rider and didn't mind the 4.5+ hour drive.

This time we rode the gondola up to the top of the mountains! Mama decided to hang back with Tito (read scared out of her mind) so we adventured up with Keith, Joyce and your new best friend Kathryn! This was an awesome adventure. The first gondola took us up close to the summit of Whistler mountain. From there you could take an open air ski lift to the Whistler peak. You had to be 40 inches tall to do that. You were barely under 40 inches and I probably could have gotten you up there but we decided to hang back and take a hike. You did awesome and walked the entire hike, even up the last steep part. Daddy was totally impressed and wildly relieved I didn't have to carry you up the steep part. From there we took the Peak 2 Peak gondola which took us from Whistler mountain to Blackcomb mountain. That was another awesome trip. At one point during that ride we were suspended over 1450 feet up in the air. That is taller than the Empire State Building! We saw some black bears that looked like tiny rocks from our vantage point but that was a cool ride. Once on Blackcomb we ran into a little critter I have no idea what it was. It looked a little mean so we kept our distance. THEN we had to take open chair lifts down that mountain! I was afraid that you would be terrified of that. Nope! Not at all. You were calm and loved the ride. It was a pretty cool adventure Mai.

We landed in a different part of Whistler village and had to hoof it back to the hotel to get ready in time for the wedding! We made it but you decided to rest a bit during the ceremony. You were so excited to see the pretty bride walk down the isle and see the flower girl. But a day in the mountains can tire anyone out let alone my little princess.

The wedding was gorgeous as were the bride and groom. Poor Amanda; you were obsessed with her! You kept saying "AMANDA! She looks SOO pretty" and wanted to follow her around all night. You were more excited to dance with her than with your Daddy! Little brat.

It was a good wedding. Good times with good friends. 

The wedding was in a new native american cultural center that was pretty cool. Except for this thing. It kind of freaked me out and reminded me of hellraiser. You'll find soon that Daddy watches too many horror movies.

Of course you got to do some of your favorite things; Act like a bear while posing with a bear.

Speaking of bears, we had our closest ever encounter with a wild bear. We were walking home from the wedding down a well lit, well traveled pathway and we saw a black bear just moseying down the path. There were a lot of people on the path so the bear was obviously accustom to humans but we picked up our pace and kept our eyes open nonetheless. (Don't worry Grandmas, our baby was safe)

You also got to play on a playground, pose with Mommy on some cutout standouts (or whatever they're called) and play in some bobsleds and bike racks (you called your little gyms) throughout the village.

I myself love these pictures. Winter of 2010 and early fall in 2015. Same Mommy. Different supporting crew.

This is a drawing you did the first night in the hotel. Whistler has apparently turned into this party town and our hotel was on top of a night club / disco. When we went to bed you could hear the bass thumping. You called it a bumping sound and said you had to draw a picture of it before you went to bed. We let you and shut off the lights. Surprisingly we all slept good. When we got up we saw your picture. You said those were the "bumping" sounds you heard last night. :)

I love that you are such a good traveler Mai. Just like when we left Orcas you said you didn't want to go and you wanted to stay in our hotel in Canada forever and ever. Luckily you're easily won over. I said we'd go on another trip soon and you said "YAY!" and helped pack your bag before we left. 

Until our next great adventure Mai... What's next for  us?



Ms. (sometimes) Independent

Dear Mai, 

As I was walking Tito this morning before work I was reminiscing on how much our lives have changed with you. In particular when I saw this on the table this morning.

Now when I say our lives changed, they indeed have but Mommy and I are still pretty much the same people. You've just blended nicely into our lives. But Mommy and I would have thought "NOOO" if someone said our house was going to be filled with all things frozen and whatever other toy has it's 15 minutes of fame 10 years ago. But, as you are probably well aware, Mommy and I are pretty laid back and tend to just "roll with it" when it comes to life. Seeing this this morning made me a little sad. There is going to be a day when our house ISN'T filled with these things and that will make me sad. 

Today is one of the first overcast days here in Seattle in like 3 months. Maybe the grey is having its affect on me too.

We've come along way since our first discussion about chores and earning money. This weekend we hit a milestone. You had enough (or at least almost enough) money to buy your first item all by yourself. You bought a Sophia playset. 

You've been asking for this thing for months. Every time we go to target you show us. Lately when you see if or one of the other bazillion things you want you say "I WANT THIS!!! I guess I better earn more money." So the day finally came and you paid the cashier and you walked out of Target one proud little girl. I thought for sure once we opened it it was just going to collect dust and it would be over. Boy was I wrong. You've been playing with those things every waking moment you have. Before you go to bed or take a nap you have to bring some with you so you can play with them the first thing when you wake up. (and you do) We went to a party this weekend and you had to take something from the play set. You take something on all of our errands we run and you left for school this morning with one of the characters proudly in your hand. Money well spent I would say.

Last night we were talking and you said one of the kids in your school (daycare) was starting kindergarten and wasn't going to Ms. Rivini's anymore. 

Daddy: "Oh. So when are you going to start kindergarten?"

Maya: (looks inquisitively at Mommy) "A few days?" (You have no concept of time yet and it's hilarious)

Mommy: "Two years."

Maya: (looks confidently at Daddy) "TWO YEARS!"

Maya: (looks back at Mommy) "I'm going to stay with you for two more years Mommy."

We've been having conversations about you doing more things on your own because you want to grow up to be a independent girl. You've been responding with "But Mommy! I want to stay with you for ever and ever." In fact we got some video of you saying that to black mail you when the day comes when you want to move out of the house because we're so lame.

It's a fine balance right now. You are a strong independent girl in many ways. You like to wear sun glasses at night and pose so we can send videos to Grandma.

You have definite opinions about what clothes you wear. I tried to put a Metallica shirt on you yesterday and you absolutely refused to wear it. You're also really into wearing two different shoes these days, depending on your mood.

But in other ways you're still SUPER dependent. You hate to dress yourself

and we had a knock down, drag-out issue about eating your corn on the cob by yourself last night. You LOVE corn on the cob but you hate to get your hands messy so you want us to hold it for you while you eat. After a small crisis, you finally agreed to eat it on your own because you could DEVOUR it and you thought that was funny.

Independent does not equal mature and that is okay.

Now I realize it is 100% our fault this happens... because we do. We're aware of this and are actively trying to not do as much for you and encourage you to do more on your own. 

It's hard for me Mai. I want to do things for you because I love you so much. I realize that won't help you at all in the long run. I'm still learning as I go here. It's going to be hard letting go of "my little baby" but I love seeing the awesome little independent girl you're becoming. Girl power Mai. Girl Power!



Orcas Island or bust

Dear Mai,

We've been to Orcas Island 3 times now. This is an odd occurrence for us because Mommy and Daddy don't usually like to visit the same place more than once... 2 times at the most. But our 2nd Orcas Island trip was a bit chaotic. Let me esplain.

Early July, 2015

Grandma comes out for a visit. This is the first time she gets to visit our new dog Tito!

We have a great visit with Grandma and do all kind of things like your very first face painting

A trip to Leavenworth, bike riding, water taxi rides, a trip to the market, new swimming pool and just hanging out having a good time!

July 12, 7:30 AM

We head out for Orcas Island. Now Orcas Island isn't that far but it's not a super quick trip either. It's about 1.5 hours without any traffic, then waiting at least 30 minutes for the Ferry followed by a 45 minute Ferry ride. We have a nice cabin rental reserved and we're planning on taking Grandma on a sailing trip the next day!

We arrive at Orcas Island around 11:20 and head to the village to grab a bit to eat and poke around a bit until our check-in time is ready. Orcas Island is beautiful and filled with all kinds of neat little shops and restaurants.

Check-in time is 4:00 PM and we get to our cabin right at 4. It's a great spot with a nice view of a little cove on the Island.

We were there for a total of 11 minutes. Grandma and I were in the car about to head out to get some food for the night when my phone rings. It is Tito's dog sitter. He escaped. Ugh.

For the next three hours I try to help organize a search committee via texting and social media. It is evident it's not going to work and Tito's not going to be found.

We take off to catch the 8:20 PM Ferry and leave Orcas early.

We get home around 11:30 PM. It has been a long day but no luck finding Tito.

The next morning Mommy and I are about to start putting up flyers all over the place looking for Tito.

We get a phone call while we're in the photo copy store about to shell out some cash for some high quality flyers. One of Mommy's friends found Tito on craigslist under lost and found. 

Mommy and I rush to pick him up. He had quite an adventure but he was finally saved by this awesome man named Dan who spent all night with him outside looking after Tito. 

It was quite a few days but we were all glad Tito was back home and safe. But this did not stop us from our Orcas Island adventure

August 23 - 8:00 AM 

We head out for Orcas again to catch the same 10:20 ferry. This time Shawn, Becky and Lorelei are coming with us! The owners of the cabin and the owner of the sailboat did not charge us and said we could come back and redeem so we did! This time, Tito came with us!

So we got to enjoy the cabin this time

Do some tide pooling. The tides here are crazy. This is how the same cove looks in the morning. By afternoon it is over 6 ft deep like the picture when we went with Grandma!

And we finally got to go sailing! It was an awesome 3 hour trip. You were so brave and excited on it. Mama and I were so proud of you. You didn't get bored once and were all about walking on the boat. You loved going to the bow of the boat with Mommy. Daddy was a happy camper steering the ship. It was awesome and intimidating feeling the power of the wind!

It was a great trip Mai! And we'll probably be back to Orcas. We love it out there, ever since our first trip when you were only 18 months old.

I still have a lot more catching up to do because we've been all over the place this summer... and we have a lot more planed coming up! Thank heavens you're such a good little traveler!



Fashionista explorer

Ready for adventure. Cute outfit? Check. Crocs? Check. Binoculars? Check. Backpack filled with shopkins and dollhouse accessories? Check.

Where are we going that requires all these things? Kohls.

The Mija stories and the dollars

Dear Mai,

So I've been thinking a lot on this whole parenting thing and how Mommy and I are doing. In general I like the fact that we get out and do a lot of things with you but I worry we're giving you the easy road. I worry you won't ever understand the value of a dollar. Let me esplain.

I didn't exactly grow up poor but I didn't grow up "well to do" by any stretch. I think Grandma and Grandpa did their best to shelter me from the real world and how "adult" expenses work. BUT... I knew nothing was for free. If I wanted something I had to work for it. In fact I had my first paper route when I was 12 years old. I worked my butt off trying to be the best paperboy I could be and earn money for my self. In fact I was Toledo Blade's "Carrier of the week" in like 1985 or something like that.

I inherited my work ethic from Grandpa. If I thought I worked hard, he worked harder, exponentially.. and he grew up poor. I'm not going to do this story justice but when he was young and living in Detroit he thought he had reached rock bottom and there was nothing else to do but give up. He didn't have a cent to his name and was terribly sad and depressed. He went to church and as he walked out after praying he found 3 dollars on the church stairs. That was a blessing for Grandpa Castaneda and gave him just enough will to continue forward. Very shortly after that he met his wife to be, Grandma. The rest is history as they say. You could say those 3 dollars saved his life. 

Now, while I have a good work ethic, my view on the dollar is probably skewed. As I said, I've been working hard my whole life, ever since my early paperboy days but... I've always been pretty frivolous when it comes to money. In fact, even when I was a paperboy and I intended to save all my money for "productive" things what did I spend most of my money on? Gauntlet. The first version of that 4 person arcade game at the local 7-11. While I worked hard and made money, I spent it just as quick. Not much has changed 30 years later. 

So that brings us to tonight. I tell you a Mija story almost every night. Initially Mija stories were intended to tell you more stories about Grandpa so you could know who he was while you grew up. They've turned into a vehicle for me giving your "life lessons." Mija, in the context of our stories, is a little girl who lives with her Mommy and Daddy in Seattle. The rest of her extended family lives in Ohio. Mija is NOT to be confused with Maya because you are not Mija. I've been scolded on this matter a few times. 

Anywho, I use Mija to start easing in ideas for you and so far it has worked pretty well. For example, you had your first Dentist appointment a few months back. You were nervous and didn't know what to expect so I told you stories about Mija and what she experienced at the dentist office. By the time your appointment arrived you knew just what to expect and you were perfect. You were so perfect the entire staff made a big fuss about you and said you were their best patient ever! They want to include some of your pictures on their website too!

So tonight I wanted to tell you a story about how you have to work hard to get things you want. So Mija wanted a new toy called "foo foo fly bye." Daddy told her it was too expensive. It was $20 and if Mija wanted it she would have to do chores and earn her own money. Mija did chores for about 2 weeks until finally she had earned $20. She was able to bye "foo foo fly bye" all by herself!

I could feel you staring at me the entire time I was telling you this story.

Maya: "Daddy?"

Daddy: "Yes sweet pea?"

Maya: "I want a foo foo fly bye toy. What is it?"

Daddy: (laughing) "Foo foo fly bye is just some made up toy Mija wanted."

Maya: "I want that."

Maya: "Daddy?"

Daddy: "Yes bug?"

Maya: "What is after sleepy?"
Daddy: "School. First thing in the morning."
Maya: "aw. Can I do all kinds of chores for Mommy and get $20 so I can bye foo foo fly bye?"

Daddy: "It takes a long time and a lot of chores to earn $20, you can't do that in one night!"

Maya: "Yes I can!"

Maya: "Oh look. I can do a chore now!"

Maya: (Proceeds to move a toy card/picture on your nightstand upright)

Maya: "THERE! I did a chore! Give me a dollar"

Daddy: (Stunned and shocked) "Um... that isn't a real chore and I'm not giving you a dollar for that."

Maya: "Aw man! I'm going to do all kinds of chores for Ms. Vini (daycare teacher) tomorrow and she'll give me $20!"

Daddy: "Um... I don't think that is how that works. Just go to bed and talk to Mommy about chores and earning $$$ tomorrow, okay?"

Maya: "Okay!"

Daddy: (Dodged that bullet! - Phew!)

We'll see how we progress Mai. Hopefully by the time you are reading this you will have had 2 programming assignments that earned money and you understand the value of the dollar. Until then, I'll *try* to not give into your tiny terrorist demands. I'm only human though so deal with it. 

Much love,